Malaysian couple held in Sweden for beating child who did not pray

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A Malaysian couple is being held by Swedish authorities for allegedly hitting one of their children.

Azizul Raheem Awalludin, the Tourism Malaysia director in Stockholm, and his wife Shalwati Nurshal, a secondary school teacher, had reportedly struck their 12-year-old son for not performing his prayers.

The couple's four children are in the care of a non-Muslim foster home and have complained that they miss their parents.

Bernama quoted the eldest child, 14-year-old Aisyah, as saying that she and her three brothers, aged 12, 11 and 7, were unhappy living with their foster parents.

"They keep a dog and also serve non-halal food. Although they do not feed us non-halal food, we share the same crockery and eating utensils," Aisyah told Bernama.

"Swedish authorities have not allowed us to meet our relatives who have flown from Malaysia to see me and my brothers," she said.

One of Aisyah's siblings, Ammar, told Bernama: "I miss Mummy and Daddy. We want to go back to Malaysia but they won't let us."

"We are sad every time we come back from school as our parents are not around," Ammar said.

The Star quoted a close family source as saying Azizul and Shalwati had requested Swedish authorities to place their children in the care of another foster family.

"Both Azizul and Shalwati had also appealed to Swedish authorities that their children be placed under the temporary care of the Malaysian embassy in Stockholm," the source told The Star.

Until now, no charges have been brought against Azizul and Shalwati, although they have not been allowed to see their children.

The incident started when Azizul and Shalwati had allegedly scolded their 12-year-old son for failing to perform his prayers and hit him on his hands.

Although the boy did not suffer any bruises, he was feeling a bit down and his teacher at school noticed his dispirited outlook.

After the boy told the teacher, the school counsellor was informed and a report was lodged with Swedish authorities.

"Within a day, the children were removed from the school and both Azizul and Shalwati were arrested and taken into custody," the source told The Star.

The couple, both in their early 40s, were arrested on December 18 and their remand was extended for another two weeks on Thursday.

Those arrested could be held in custody until the trial was completed as there was no bail system in Sweden.

Azizul has been working in Sweden for three years and has been with the Tourism Ministry since 2000.

The Star reported that under Swedish law, even if Azizul and Shalwati were found not guilty, they would still lose custody of their children.

In order to reclaim custody, the Malaysian couple would need to apply to the court to get their children back.

If, however, they are found guilty, the couple face a mandatory jail sentence of at least nine months.

Putrajaya has sent an official to Sweden to get an update on the issue, but otherwise, remained tight-lipped on the matter. – January 18, 2014.

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